Tracer

This book literally explodes into life from page one and while it’s not the sort of book I usually read, I was dragged in by both feet! With explosions and betrayals, you end up looking at everyone and thinking ‘are they a good guy or are they about to turn round and shoot you’?

Tracer (Outer Earth) A huge space station orbits the Earth, holding the last of humanity. It’s broken, rusted, falling apart. We’ve wrecked our planet, and now we have to live with the consequences: a new home that’s dirty, overcrowded and inescapable.

What’s more, there’s a madman hiding on the station. He’s about to unleash chaos. And when he does, there’ll be nowhere left to run.

Riley Hale is a tracer – part of a group of people who make money delivering goods to different sectors of the space station. She never looks at what she is carrying until one day it all goes wrong, she inadvertently sees her cargo and nothing is the same again.

This book literally explodes into life from page one and while it’s not the sort of book I usually read, I was dragged in by both feet! With explosions and betrayals, you end up looking at everyone and thinking ‘are they a good guy or are they about to turn round and shoot you’?

Riley is fast and resilient and can definitely take a punch or two, although I’m not sure how she managed to stay standing at times.  She is a strong heroine but has hidden depths and when the time comes, she shows just how strong she really is.

Darnell is the main villain of the piece and he’s evil, nasty, completely nuts and so well written I could imagine him very clearly.

There is also a large cast of supporting characters, all of whom are interesting and multi layered.

The world building is good and you get a sense of the despair felt by people living on this crumbling space station – it makes you want to think about taking better care of this planet we are on!

I guess my only criticism would be that at times it felt like I was watching an action film at the cinema (and this would translate to a big budget blockbuster very easily). You could argue of course that feeling like I was watching a film shows the quality of the writing – that I can see it all so clearly, but for me at times I felt it was a bit over the top.

Overall, I did enjoy it and it is a good book, just not my usual genre (although there was a teensy bit of romance).

Generally though this is a non stop action thriller set in space, and if that is the sort of book you enjoy, you will love this. Very well written, descriptive and immersive.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Rob Boffard
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Oh my goodness, this is one creepy, thought provokingly brilliant book.  I’d heard good things about it but curiously I’d not heard much of what it was actually about.  I can understand that now.  The fall of civilization, apocalypse, zombie type creatures, are all part of it yes (or some time after the fall) but it’s actually about a young girl called Melanie who is very curious.

The focus is very narrow, kept to what Melanie knows in the beginning and doesn’t really spread out much further than that other than a couple of different POV scenes but all kept in close proximity.  I went through so many emotions, starting off as curious as Melanie but then feeling a bit uncomfortable led to dawning horror and then so much tension I couldn’t actually put the book down because I had to find out what was happening.  Almost like having to look at something awful, just to prove to yourself that it is actually that awful.  The pace is very much tied to the plot and as things progress, things speed up and get more intense and that does not stop until the end.  I actually finished the book with my mouth hanging open.

With a very small core cast, the obvious focus is Melanie who I loved, even with the creepy factor.  Secondly is Miss Justineau, her compassion and intelligence create for some very raw scenes.  The superb writing of Carey gave us the Sergeant who I loathed… then by the end I loved.  That’s a pretty impressive turnaround in not a lot of time and shows that what you see is very much not what you get.  Caldwell, the scientist, is cold but I’m stuck between necessity and hatred where she is concerned.  She may be the only one who can get the answer but her actions are abhorrent.  The lieutenant was just a bit a fish out of water and didn’t get in the way too much.

The answer to what is going on however is mind-blowing and so very horrifying.  Yet, it’s also fascinating and in an odd way, hopeful.

A brilliant yet creepy book that will leave you thinking.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: M.R. Carey
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Genre: Horror
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Hellhole Inferno

Well I can quite honestly say this book is a one serious roller-coaster of a ride. Several hours after putting it down, I’m still not even sure what to do with myself.

Hellhole Inferno (Hellhole Trilogy) After the events of Hellhole Awakening, the people of Hellhole and the shadow-Xayans scramble to rally against the threat from the still-living rogue Xayans. Back on Sonjeera, the Monarchy is in an uproar after their surprising defeat and the breakaway of the Deep Zone planets. The dowager Queen decides to go to Hellhole on a diplomatic mission, hoping to keep her power. But after touring Hellhole, Queen Michella is shaken, and begins to realize that she can never have the old Monarchy back.
Before the Queen can return to Sonjeera, she’s captured by the rogue Xayans and learns the reason for their attack: the orthodox Xayans had developed their minds to the point where they could evolve and, in so doing, trigger another Big Bang, wiping out everything.
The rogue Xayans thought they succeeded in stopping the ascension, but the orthodox Xayans on Hellhole are nearly ready. Now, twenty-two huge asteroids from the outer reaches of the solar system are bearing towards Hellhole, summoned by the rogue sect as a last resort. Can all these lives and the planet itself be saved?  

Well I can quite honestly say this book is a one serious roller-coaster of a ride.  I finished it and then had to spend some time just staring into space absorbing it.  Several hours after putting it down, I’m still not even sure what to do with myself.

There is so much about this book that is great with moments of sheer genius that push it beyond great and into amazing.  The resolution for Hellhole’s fate was inspired and made so much sense.  The moments before that were just so intense that I was literally holding my breath.

The characters are just superb; General Tiber Adolphus and Sophie Vence are the two that I have adored all the way through this series and my heart was in my mouth several times, hoping that they would stay free just that little bit longer to do what was needed for the galaxy.  It’s also rare to come across characters that are truly detestable and despicable yet also be able to see how they came to power.  The clever writing in Inferno also allows some of those that were actually quite contemptible to redeem themselves and I found myself rooting for a few of them in the end.

The plot is clever with things happening on so many fronts but it’s never confusing; it’s always clear what is going on but as each event takes place it produces a distinct emotional reaction.  I think I say this in both the other reviews too but it bears repeating – the writing is just so clean, straight and to the point but still descriptive enough to clearly envision people and planets.  No padding, no flowery language, the prose just flows extremely well.

The pace throughout was full on and really well timed to lure you in and keep you there.  I couldn’t put it down because I needed to know what happened next at every stage.  When the answers finally came I was truly shocked;  by Ala’ru and the solution, and by the number of people who count lives as others would count grains of rice and treat them as just as importantly.

This is not a happy ever after book.  The cost of lives is just too high, for both people and places we’d grown to love.  Those people who finally stood up and did the right thing, who said no when the final demands came caused the biggest reaction in me.  I cried for those lost and those saved and I even cheered for those who got what they finally so very clearly deserved.

I can only applaud Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert on the conclusion of a truly epic series.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
  • Series: Hellhole (3)
  • Format: Hardback
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Hellhole Awakening

Hellhole Awaking is just utterly amazing … triumph and tragedy on an epic scale.

Hellhole Awakening (Hellhole Trilogy 2) General Adolphus knows the Monarchy crackdown is coming. Now he needs to pull together all the resources of the Hellhole colony, the ever-expanding shadow-Xayan settlement, and his connections with the other Deep Zone worlds. On Sonjeera, Diadem Michella Duchenet has collected a huge fleet, led by firebrand Commissar Escobar Hallholme, son of the man who originally defeated Adolphus.
Uniting themselves and pooling their minds, the shadow-Xayans send a power surge along the original stringline path that links Hellhole with the Monarchy’s hub on Sonjeera. All of the Diadem’s battleships are currently approaching on that route, and when the mental blast wipes out all the substations, the battleships are effectively stranded.
But now a bigger threat appears. Three large asteroids come in from the outer reaches of the Candela system. On Hellhole, the awakened Xayans finally reveal information that has been hidden even from their own followers. A large group of powerful, rogue telemancers split away from the main race-fanatics, violent, and ruthless. And now that the Xayan civilization is reawakening, the rogues have come back to destroy them once and for all. They are coming for Hellhole, and this time they will completely destroy it.

Hellhole Awakening follows on from the amazing Hellhole, and the series continues to intrigue me.  There is so much good stuff in this book that I want to shout so loudly about, that only the threat of spoilers keeps your ears safe!

The pace was brilliant, and ensured my eyes were glued to the words and I didn’t want to put it down.  It’s not a short book however, so I did, very reluctantly, have to put it down to go to bed.  I’m getting a bit too old now for through the night reads.  All that did was build the suspense even further, and as soon as I was awake and had a free moment, I felt compelled to pick the story up where I’d left off.

The plot continues to be as intricate as the first book – the interplay between the Diadem, the constellation and the deep zone worlds.  Revelations about the Xayan and then Shadow Xayan were a bit of a jaw dropper and there is so much joy and heartache tied in with them.

There is a genius plot element based around three stringlines, the DZ link, the old Buktu link and the constellation link.  It was both dizzying and amazing.  It added another whole dimension to the character driven story.

Michella has to be stopped, surely someone somewhere can!  I have no words to describe the atrocities carried out on her orders, and I’ll be honest, I cried.  The writing is so clean and crisp, and everything so well imagined that it felt like you were there and it was all so emotional.

Adolphus – seriously, when is he going to get a break?  He and the DZ people seem to be the only people with any humanity left and even he nearly loses it.  Sophie is his rock and my heart broke for her.

Candela and the Xayan secrets – heart-rending on so many levels.  Why couldn’t they have confessed before?  Why?

All of those characters and events push the story inexorably toward the ending; and what an ending!  Wow.  If I didn’t have the next book to hand, I think I might have self combusted.  I feel as if I should make a wall to commemorate the fallen.

Hellhole Awaking is just utterly amazing; if you like your science fiction with great plot-lines, characters that are so well imagined they seem real and triumph and tragedy on an epic scale then this series is for you.  Seriously!

Book Information
  • Author: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
  • Series: Hellhole (2)
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Extinction

Extinction An extraordinary discovery in the Sahara desert will turn history on its head…

A series of unexplained phenomena create shockwaves across the globe – a huge religious statue moves its arm, and there’s a spate of floods and earthquakes. Many think it’s the end of the world…

Investigative journalist Alyssa Durham receives a call from an old friend claiming that these phenomena may not be entirely natural, but when he is assassinated in front of her, she finds herself on the run for her life.

Alyssa teams up with Jack Murray, a scientist from a secretive government research laboratory, to uncover the truth. But who wants them dead, and what are they trying to protect?

As chaos descends, Alyssa and Jack are drawn into a battle against an unknown enemy with the highest possible stakes, because one thing they’ve learnt is that nothing is safe from extinction…

Wow, this is a hard one to review.  On the one hand, it’s an utterly gripping thriller with some extremely clever parts and on the other it has the worst type of ending for me personally and I’m going to put that aside because it shouldn’t take away from the brilliance of this book.  It’s also hard not to spoil things as there are a few elements that I really want to shout excitedly about!

The story is extremely well written, engaging and emotional, and oh yes, very gory!  The characters are exceptional too, I especially loved Alyssa and was glad she wasn’t made out to be a wilting flower, given her job as an investigative journalist.

Apart from the prologue and epilogue, the pace is full on, have to keep turning the pages while on the edge of my seat.  You can easily see it being a blockbuster action film.

The twists.  Oh my goodness the twists.  I can’t talk about them because they really would spoil the book, but there are two that had my jaw on the floor.  One is outstanding, I didn’t see it coming and it had me in shocked tears.  The second manages to be both extremely clever and a little disappointing.  Clever in that it encompasses the entire book, the writing is part of it, and it wasn’t until after I’d reached the epilogue, that I then had to skim through the book again to make sure it was how I thought it was.  That aspect – stunning.  The disappointing part was that it was so improbable but it is a minor part of an otherwise fantastic book that still has me thinking about it, a week or so on from reading it.

The first book by J.T. Brennan I’ve read and it won’t be the last.  Even if he doesn’t cater to my ending preferences 😉

[book rating=4.5/5]

Book Information
  • Author: J.T. Brannan
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Fortune’s Pawn

Fortune's Pawn: Book 1 of Paradox: 1/3 Deviana Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. One of those is going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.

Not when she just got a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble. And with a reputation for bad luck that makes one year as security detail on this ship equal to five years everywhere else – Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year might be more than even Devi can handle.

I love space operas, I love science fiction with a twist of romance, I love first person stories where things are grey as the narrator figures things out and makes mistakes and misunderstands.

I love Fortune’s Pawn.

So much so in fact, that it reminded me why I got into reviewing in the first place, because people NEED to know about this book because it is just that good!

I put off reading it because I never seemed to be in the right mood and now I’m kicking myself because this has shot up as one of my favourite sci-fi books of all time – on par with James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series.

Devi is a heroine I can utterly get behind.  She’s an amazing soldier because she’s trained hard to be.  She’s not pretending to be a man and she’s not a helpless female who is supposed to be a tough mercenary.  She’s prepared to go down fighting and doesn’t quit, even though she knows her death may well be approaching.  She is just the ultimate badass and I love her.  Later on we see Devi’s softer side, and rather than detracting from the power of her character, it instead makes her more human and reinforces her strength.

The core crew were brilliant as well, often making me laugh, sometimes wanting to make me smack them – Caldswell in particular! Rupert was a wonderfully enigmatic character and loved the way he was with Devi – as the book progressed, that did NOT go the way I expected and that made me want to cry!  Then there is the mystery of Ren.  Argh!  Just a wonderful mix of alien/human crew on board the Glorious Fool.

I loved the way Rachel Bach wove the story around the characters and just when I thought I had things figured out, it changed and I had to look at a situation in a new light.

The action was extremely well done.  Fast paced, descriptive and emotive.  My heart was in my mouth several times and I even got a bit tearful at certain scenes.

I have the second book waiting here and I can’t wait to dive into it as the end of Fortune’s Pawn demands it! It proves that you can’t know everything from all sides.

Just a phenomenal book and one I highly recommend!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Rachel Bach
  • Series: Paradox (1)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Born of Silence

Born Of Silence: Number 5 in series (League) Living a dual life can be deadly, as Kere, an infamous member of the Sentella, is about to find out. As Kere he is feared across the galaxy, as Darling he is mocked, ridiculed and beaten on a regular basis.  No one outside the Sentella knows his true identity not even the resistance leader Zarya Starska – the woman Kere has given his heart to.

In the wrong place at the wrong time Kere finds all he thought he believed in to be a lie and vows to kill every resistance member he can find… including Zarya.

Darling’s story was eagerly awaited and it did not disappoint, we went from emotional highs to lows and experienced every emotion possible. I was sobbing in parts, thankful I was reading it alone and my kids or husband weren’t in the room! In previous books Darling has been openly homosexual and I was worried that the explanation for him being in love with a woman would be weak. I should never have doubted Sherrilyn Kenyon however, the reasoning was flawless and very believable.

For those of you who have read the Dark Hunter books, Darling is very much like Acheron (apart from being a god of course – sex god maybe), a tortured hero with so much baggage it is surprising he comes out even halfway sane. In the same way that Acheron is by far my favourite book from the Dark Hunters, this book has easily become my favourite in this series.

There is a lot of input from characters from the previous books which I always enjoy and their responses when finding Darling with a woman are a picture (well as much of a picture you can get with a book).

In summary if you enjoyed the previous books in this series you will love this one, it is bigger, better and much more of an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

 

Existence

Existence - Limited Edition 3D Cover My initial reaction when I finished Existence was OMG THAT WAS AWESOME!! but I don’t think that is quite objective enough so I will try and break it down a bit!

There are books that give you a warm happy glow at the end, ones that make you cry but understand how and why it had to happen that way.  Some make you angry because you don’t understand or feel that the author made a bad decision.  Existence has so many layers and is on such a completely different level that I’m struggling for words right now.  Satisfied, elated, saddened, optimistic, thoughtful?  There’s a start!

I’ve been glued to the book for the past two days and for some of that time I kept repeating to my husband, ‘I’m gripped and absorbed but still not sure what is actually going on’.  It’s not because it’s confusing but because of the clever way it’s written and the fact that the reader and the characters learn about what’s going on at the same pace.  It definitely feels like a shared journey.

The premise is very simple; is our existence guaranteed? Do we take it for granted and will we bring about our own destruction in some way?  In our endless search to know we aren’t alone in the universe, that we aren’t just a grand fluke, what would we do if we found proof?  And what would be do if that proof confirmed our greatest fears – that all technological civilisations die.

Do we accept that?  Do we go quietly into the night? Do we fight, try to change the inevitable?

Actually the premise isn’t very simple at all is it?

This book has gotten so thoroughly into my head that even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about what I’d read.

At first I found the seemingly disparate cast a little confusing but as the book progressed, it made increasingly more sense.  They aren’t people that are connected by family or associations in a traditional story sense, but by circumstances and a drive to solve the same problem. Each of the major cast were clearly defined and compelling in their own way.  However, David uses the characters as a vehicle for exploring the book’s premise, which doesn’t detract from my enjoyment or liking of them, but does make different reading to more traditional character driven stories.

I found the technology fascinating.  Existence is set in the near future, and I really enjoyed seeing David Brin’s vision of future technology.  Existence is a good blend between hard and soft science fiction, the science feels real but the book’s core philosophy is around the social and psychological impact of that science.

The story is interspersed with excerpts from fictional contemporary articles and books, which add flavour and help build the story. They provided a fascinating insight into the sociology of the time and probably has relevance today! Another nice touch I loved were references to real authors and books from our time, viewed by the characters in the book as historical pieces, and a few of those made me chuckle.

I’ve not read anything by David Brin since The Postman when I was in my late teens and I loved that book a lot.  I want to go and read his back-list now because his ‘voice’ is such a powerful one and he has a very clean, clear way of writing that even a pulp fiction junkie like me can understand.

Thought provoking but mind-blowing sci-fi at its very best.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Brin
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Irreverent Questions With… T.C. McCarthy

If you are a fan of great science fiction and haven’t yet read Germline, then go and track down a copy in your favourite format now!  I would say I’ll wait but then you will be engrossed and you won’t read the rest of this post so… read this first, then get cracking 😉

It’s an astonishing read; brutal, gritty and full of the reality of those who are fighting a war, even in a futuristic setting.  I can’t wait for Exogene, the next book in the series which is due out in March! If you need more convincing then read my review and then decide.  Either way, T.C. McCarthy was kind enough to agree to being my next victim author for Irreverent Questions.

On with the irreverence!

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
A dog who belonged to a good family, with kids. That way I’d sleep, eat, and play all day (when I wasn’t pooping).

Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
Yes. I put the kids to bed and then set my alarm for 4 AM so I can get up early enough to have peace and quiet. Ugh.Office

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I built my own office by renovating an empty room in our house; we were using it for storage and I thought it was time to make it more useful. The two pictures; one is how my space looks right now at 5 AM – dark and out of focus. The grey splotch under the desk is one of my dogs, who is in the other picture, and who keeps my feet warm.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I knew I forgot to do something. Crap!

Whose opinion matters most to you?
This is a fantastic question, and I’d line them in this order, from most to least important: 1. Editor, 2. Reader, 3. Agent, 4. Me.

Do you get fully dressed to write?
I’m in my boxers as I write this, and the manuscript for my next novel is open in another window – so, no? 🙂

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Positive reviews, negative reviews, the news, and just about anything you could think of. The mood is always there. But the inspiration can come from anywhere, and it’s just important to keep my mind open so I can recognize inspiration when it presents itself.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Either John Malkovich or Steve Buscemi.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve had?
That the genetic soldiers are “male fantasy female supersoldiers.” Uh…no. I don’t fantasize about bald sixteen year olds, and I think this comment says more about its author than it does me. The choice of girl genetics was made to (a) convey a sense of gloom, that future society deteriorates to the point where it replaces women in combat with mass-manufactured girls, and (b) it just seemed really creepy. We get a better look at this society in books II and III. The curious can Google “male fantasy supersoldiers” for more information…

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
Fan mail from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan vets who convey a simple message: that I got it right.

How do you deal with negative comments?
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s an honor to be part of the literary or genre debate. I’d rather get negative comments than no comments. So I ignore them when they’re motivated by something other than honest criticism, absorb them when they have value, and try to be grateful that I have a shot at writing novels.

PennyDo you have pets, and if so, describe them?
See the answer to the third question, above! I have four dogs and three kids, so it gets insane around here.

What is your favourite type of music?
I listen to Irish folk, Russian folk, and a lot of punk, shoegazer, and anti-grunge.

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Barefoot. All the way, barefoot.

Thanks so much to T.C. McCarthy for taking part, and if you want to know more, visit his Website, Facebook or Twitter!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of T.C. McCarthy


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, new feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Robopocalypse the Movie

You may remember in June last year we reviewed Robopocalypse, and we liked it!  We gave it four out of five stars, and described it as

… an excellent, entertaining and emotional look at what might be if the Robots ever do rebel.

We knew at the time that Steven Spielberg had picked up the movie rights, and there’s news today on that project and when it might start going into production.

Via SFX magazine,

If current plans remain in place, then the next sci-fi film we’ll see from Steven Spielberg will be Robopocalypse, based on the novel by Daniel H Wilson, which should go into production after the director’s finished his next movie project, Lincoln (not the vampire-hunting one, the serious one).

That’s pretty exciting news, but movie projects have a way of coming together and falling apart so we’ll continue crossing our fingers.  You can track updates about the movie on IMDb (normal caveats about accuracy).